Here is an article by Ron Unz questioning whether the Russians shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. I bring it to your attention only because Ron Unz is not a nut (or rather, he used to not be a nut), and he is not a leftist whacko. He is – or was – a respectable conservative. For instance, he was one of the driving forces behind Proposition 227, the successful ballot measure that banned bilingual education in California. So when he outs himself as an MH17 truther, one must wonder, how many less-well-credentialed conservatives are similarly deluded.
The primary evidence he highlights is via a left-wing Washington Post blogger, Erik Zuesse, who claims that a photograph of a piece of aircraft wreckage proves that MH17 was shot down by Ukrainian jets. His argument is that this photo shows penetrations coming from both sides, which is inconsistent with an exploding SAM. Earth to Erik Zuesse, I have a one-word rebuttal: secondary explosions.
Of course, my assertion that secondary explosions occurred is just as much speculation as Zeusse’s elaborately constructed theory based on a picture one piece of evidence. A catastrophic aircraft loss is a complex event that requires a full analysis to make sense of each piece of evidence. To this Zuesse states, “Only idiots would trust Britain to interpret these black boxes to determine what or who brought down that plane.” Well it must be nice to cavalierly dismiss evidence, even before you see it, simply because you do not like it.
But this remark perfectly illustrates the most debilitating intellectual error made by conspiracy kooks, their shifting standards of evidence. The weakness of their conclusions does not come, as is commonly supposed, because they are ‘ignorant’ or they ‘don’t know anything’. This is not true. Often quite the opposite is true: their heads are positively bursting with facts. It is just that they don’t judge facts dispassionately. The tiniest fact that supports their conclusion is hailed as a world-beating revelation, while, at the same time, entire lines of reasoning and fact are cavalierly dismissed as evidence planted by the Freemasons or the Jews or the neocons.
In this case, the fact that a Ukrainian Air Force IL-76 was shot down on June 14 was ignored, as was a report on June 19 from Russian News agencies that the rebels had acquired a Buk missile system from a captured Ukrainian military base; as was a tweet the same day from rebels confirming the same; as was the downing of a Ukrainian Air Force AN-26 on July 14; as was subsequent social media claims from rebels that it was shot down by a Buk missile; as was the shoot-down of a Ukrainian Air Force Su-25 on July 16; as were eye-witness reports of a Buk M-1 missile system in rebel-held territory operated by men with Russian accents16 km south of the crash site; as was a tweet appearing shortly after the shoot-down from an account of a prominent rebel leader claiming credit for the shootdown, a tweet that was quickly deleted; as is the fact that the range of a BUK M-1 missile (35 km) requires that it must have been fired in rebel-held territory; as was the fact that rebels shot down several aircraft after the MH17 shoot-down; as was the fact that the rebels systematically obstructed crash-site investigation.
Hmm… Ron Unz and Erik Zeusse. Wouldn’t Occam’s Razor conclude that the most likely explanation is that Putin’s ne’er-do-wells in Eastern Ukraine deliberately shot down the Boeing 777 in the mistaken belief that it was a Ukrainian Air Force transport? Wouldn’t the evidence at hand make this explanation so likely that the burden of proof now falls on the proponents of opposing theories to provide the extraordinary evidence now required to make their case?
At this point, the conspiracy kooks reading this might sputter, “oh yeah, well what about global warming, aren’t the experts and authorities wrong there?” Let me tell you Mr. Kook, if the evidence opposing anthropogenic global warming (AGM) were as weak as the case put forward by kooks like Unz and Zeusse, then I would an evangelist for AGM. The reason AGM can today be legitimately doubted is that people like Steve Macintyre went into the weeds with the data and deconstructed the evidence in a rational manner. In other words, they provided the extraordinary evidence required to challenge the scientific establishment. Macintyre isn’t a conspiracy kook who babbles on about dark forces. He makes rational arguments based on a dispassionate analysis of all the evidence. And he has a treasure trove of East Anglia e-mail backing him up.
Until they can do that, the isolationist MH17 truthers should crawl back under the rock they came from and leave normal people be.